Helix Season 1 Review “Level X”

Helix Episode 9 Level X (9)

I had higher hopes for Helix when it first aired. Sure, it was pretty derivative (The Thing, Outbreak, and The Walking Dead spring to mind) but the style of the show, along with its impressive cast and the creative forces behind it, promised a series that was as smart as it was scary fun.

The first episodes delivered on that promise. Watching the mystery unfold at the Arctic Biosystems base became more terrifyingly tantalizing as you discovered new aspects of it. But as more questions have begun to be raised and fewer of them have been answered the series has retained most of the scary fun at the expense of some of its smarts.

“Level X” exemplified this shift. It was an episode that blended tension and excitement with questionable story choices that left you screaming at the TV.

It’s All About Julia… And She Acts Like It, Too
As Julia, Kyra Zagorsky is tasked with carrying perhaps the largest part of Helix‘s burgeoning mythology, and she continues to handle the task admirably. I just wish the writers would get a better handle on her character. Julia constantly wavers between capable, confident scientist and basket case ready to come apart at the seams.

This week, she decides to question Hatake about her past just after they learn the vectors are more intelligent than they previously thought. Shouldn’t she be helping them come up with a plan instead? Then, in Level X’s (alphabetical order be damned if it means the base’s secret level gets a cool name) virus vault, she decides destroying all the other samples takes precedence over their original mission. You may be vector repellant, Jules, but Alan isn’t. Selfish.

Finally, she locates the cabin she grew up in, but doesn’t explore it? The way the base is laid out, how do you know you won’t find a box containing all the answers in the next room? And when faced with the truth of your past, you assume it’s a replica? How can you be so smart and so stupid at the same time? The inconsistency with which Julia is written is seriously annoying.

No… I Am Your Father
In a not so stunning revelation we all knew was coming, but hoped would be handled less bluntly, Hatake admitted to being Julia’s daddy. He also showed her a picture of her mother, who Julia recognized as Ja(n)e, the woman she hallucinated while on Level R (First Sutton, now Jane… Hiroshi, you stud).

You couldn’t help but laugh at his scene. From Hatake’s groan inducing, “You have your father’s eyes”, to Julia’s Luke Skywalker-esque, “That’s impossible!” everything about their interaction here seemed clichéd and heavy handed. Also, how many secret drawers containing little wooden boxes with things in them does Hatake have in that office?

Family Matters
Not to be outdone by Hatake and Julia, Daniel Miksa and Balleseros journeyed to Anana’s village to save them from Ilaria. This led to an awkward family reunion in which long lost brothers punched each other in the face and Daniel Miksa suddenly remembered playing with Hot Wheels while Balleseros made a bit of a love connection with their sister.

By the way, am I the only one who noticed that when they shot the Ilaria Corporation soldiers they forgot the one who went around the back of the trailer with the gas can?

Sarah Comes Down With A Case Of Expository Rambling
Just two days after Alan gave her medication that was supposed to keep her illness at bay, Sarah succumbed to seizures as a result of her condition. Symptoms included throwing a pity party for herself at the worst possible time, understanding RNA sequencing but not being able to remember which buttons to push on a generator (a day after operating an advanced piece of riot control technology with ease), and begging for a round two with Alan when Julia was right there (Campbell and Zagorsky played that moment well).

Though “Level X” was frustrating for a number of different reasons, it never became a chore to watch. In some ways, the show became even more enjoyable. I think next week, when I turn out the lights to settle in and watch Helix, I’ll turn off my brain as well and let the show take me where it wants to go. See you then!

Unanswered Questions
Peter is leading the other vectors now. To what end? It’s clear there’s a lot more going on with them than we originally were led to believe. What are the vectors?

Hatake seemed awfully pleased watching the footage of the vectors on Level X. Why was he so happy to see their hive-like behavior? If the stakes are as high as he says, why isn’t he coming clean about everything?

Why did Dr. Victor take the Narvik sample from Level X? My guess it’s for that Ilaria paycheck he screamed for earlier in the episode.

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